Derrynafinchin : Stone Circle

Grid RefW 047 622
Longitude9° 22' 54.4" W
Latitude51° 48' 14.74" N
ITM east480366
ITM north584435
Nearest TownBantry (14.2 Km)
OS Sheet85
UTM zone29U
UTM x449041
UTM y5761192
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Visit Notes

Sunday, 20th April 2003

Despite being quite ruined, quite overgrown, quite by the roadside and quite interfered with by a barbed wire fence, which runs through the centre of the circle this is still a great site.

It has many curious features. The first one most people see is that there is a little structure built next to the axial stone. Most people seem to refer to it as a little wedge tomb or something similar, but really do not think that it what it is/was. I get the feeling that it is an altar, possibly used during the Catholic persecution times, like the mass rocks found all over the country.

The circle has a fairly large quartz boulder in the centre, plus another 'normal' boulder, which could have a boulder burial beneath it. One of the fallen stones caught my eye because it has a bullaun carved into it, which added to the other things here points to a long and varied use of this stone circle.

If this was cleared of the gorse bushes and the fence was moved so that it went around the monument then, with the surrounding scenery, this would be a great site. It's only problem (as far as the visitor is concerned) is its remoteness - but that adds to the pleasantness of the site ... you can't always have it both ways.

Wedge tombs are most easily catagorised by their main characteristic - they are taller and wider at the entrance than they are at the rear. Like court tombs they have a gallery which is split either by septal slabs or sill stones into smaller chambers. Galleries can be anything up to 8m in length.

The side walls are, uniquely, made of two rows of stones (three in some cases), which is refered to as double or triple walling. This double walling is perhaps the best feature to identify a wedge tomb by.

The roofs are constructed by laying large blocks or slabs across the gallery, resting on the tops of the walls.

They are often quite small, an amazing exception being Labbacallee (County Cork), one of the largest in Ireland. It is very rare to find a wedge tomb with its roof still in situ, although, occasionally, one or two of the roof slabs are present (see Proleek (County Louth)).

In some examples the roof would have extended beyond the front closing slab forming a portico at the front, which in a few specimens was split by a vertical stone place centrally in the entrance.

Like court tombs, portal tombs and passage tombs they were covered by a cairn, which, at many sites, it is still often possible to determine. A few, such as Burren SW (County Cavan), still retain a large proportion of the cairn.

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About Coordinates Displayed

This is an explanation of (and a bit of a disclaimer for) the coordinates I provide.

Where a GPS figure is given this is the master for all other coordinates. According to my Garmin these are quite accurate.

Where there is no GPS figure the 6 figure grid reference is master for the others. This may not be very accurate as it could have come from the OS maps and could have been read by eye. Consequently, all other cordinates are going to have inaccuracies.

The calculation of Longitude and Latitude uses an algorithm that is not 100% accurate. The long/lat figures are used as a basis for calculating the UTM & ITM coordinates. Consequently, UTM & ITM coordinates are slightly out.

UTM is a global coordinate system - Universal Transverse Mercator - that is at the core of the GPS system.

ITM is the new coordinate system - Irish Transverse Mercator - that is more accurate and more GPS friendly than the Irish Grid Reference system. This will be used on the next generation of Irish OS maps.

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